Updated: Mar 3, 2020
Probiotics are living microorganisms that can be taken in a capsule or a powder form. There are more than 500 different species of this good bacteria living in our digestive tract.
This good bacteria aid in the proper digestion of food. They also enhance our immune response and compete with pathogenic bacteria. This means that probiotic living microorganisms kick out the bad bacteria in our gut and help support our immune system.
Some studies have even linked them to reducing allergy symptoms and reducing the risk of upper respiratory tract infection. "A meta-analysis of twenty RCTs comprised of otherwise healthy adults and children found that regular supplementation with probiotics, particularly the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains, resulted in moderate reductions in incidence of total sick days and a shorter duration of illness."
You will notice on the supplement packaging that they will list how many billion cells are in each pill. If you and your health care provider decide a probiotic supplement is right for you, taking between 10-50 billion cells per capsule per day is fine. Clinical trials have found that probiotic bacterial survival was best when provided within 30 minutes before or simultaneously with a meal or beverage that contained some fat content.
There are some food sources of probiotic microorganisms. These are fermented foods, such as kimchi fermented vegetables or kombucha fermented sparkling teas. There are some live cultures in dairy products like yogurt, but these products can be very high in sugar and/or saturated fats. The concentration of live cells is much higher in a capsule, anywhere from 1-100 billion live cells, compared to a fermented food product, which can be around 1 million live cells.
‘NSF Certified for Sports’ Probiotic Supplements:
Garden of Life – Once Daily, 30 billion cells
Garden of Life – Men’s or Women’s Daily care, 40 billion cells
Nordic Naturals – Nordic Probiotic Sports, 12 billion cells
Sound Sport – Sound Probiotic + Prebiotic, 25 billion cells
Thorne – FloraSport, 20 billion cells
Klean Athlete – Klean Probiotic, 15 billion cells
This is not a complete list at all, this is just a starting point. Please consult with your health care provider or a sport dietian to discuss the best option for you. In most cases I recommend eating food first, but in this case a supplement has been clinically shown to benefit overall health. This can possibly allow for better sports performance if you are missing less training due illness.